Information for Faculty & Staff
Faculty members are the most consistent points of contact for student Veterans and are in the best position to notice if a Veteran is facing challenges. Faculty members can help student Veterans in many ways.
Veterans bring many strengths to campus. Some of those are:
- Work ethic
- Follow through
- Sense of duty
- Problem solving
Tips for Showing Support
- Recognize that a Veteran may be a nontraditional student with multiple roles, such as parent, spouse, employee, or Reservist/Guardsman. Encourage communication and show flexibility to help the Veteran cope with these many demands.
- Veterans bring to the campus a variety of life experiences and skills, such as a capacity for leadership and teamwork. Encourage their participation in campus groups and activities.
- Many Veterans leave higher education because they grow frustrated with the process and inability to obtain benefits, to interact with students after class and during breaks, or to use office hours and email. A relationship with a faculty member or adviser can be the single thing that helps a Veteran remain in school. Your relationship with a Veteran may help him or her feel more connected to the campus, navigate this new system, or feel support from an authority figure.
- Student Veterans serving in the Reserve or National Guard must attend Battle Assembly one weekend a month, and annual training for two weeks during the year. Training could fall anytime during the semester. This could affect the student’s ability to complete an assignment or study for an exam. Consider providing some flexibility with assignments, tests, or attendance policies, based on a particular situation.
Tips for Making Your Syllabus Veteran Friendly (Handout)
Find out how to make your syllabus Veteran-friendly and ways to understand and help with specific classroom behaviors.
Student Veterans’ Experiences on Campus
Listen to student Veterans talk about their experiences on campus.
How will I know if a student needs mental health support?
Consider talking with student Veterans when you notice the following changes in behavior:
- Withdrawal and isolation from other students
- Extreme emotions or tearfulness
- Confusion or irrational thinking
- High anxiety, unhappiness, or disgust
- Outbursts of negative behavior
- Marked difference in appearance or poor hygiene
- Excessive sleepiness
- Written or oral mention of harming themselves or others
You have a relationship with the student Veteran that positions you to be a source of help in times of need. In many situations, expressing your concern and discussing the requirements of your course with the Veteran will be enough to resolve any problems. In other situations, additional help may be needed. Here are some tips for facilitating a referral to counseling services.
On most campuses, staff members in the Office of Student Affairs are involved with the delivery of student support services, including counseling, disability accommodations, career planning, student organizations, and new student orientation. It is common for these staff members to be involved with trainings on student Veteran support for the campus community as well for Veterans themselves. In addition to the materials presented here, consider the resources section of this toolkit.
Research from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health* indicates that student Veterans are underrepresented among those who seek support from campus counseling centers. Possible reasons include concerns about stigma associated with help-seeking as well as the availability of more specialized counseling at VA facilities. Counseling center staff may find the following resources helpful in working with student Veterans.
Resources for Counseling and Health Center Staff
Center for Deployment Psychology*
The Center for Deployment Psychology facilitates behavioral health training for civilian providers in various locations throughout the year.
Campus health care providers and counseling staff may want to consider screening for PTSD.
- The Primary Care PTSD screen is a five-item questionnaire that can be used as an initial screen for PTSD symptoms. It can help to identify students who may benefit from additional assessment.
- The PTSD Checklist is a 20-item self-report measure that can be used to assess symptom severity and response to treatment.
A list of services and a VA program locator can be found here.
VA provides evidence-based treatments for PTSD, depression, substance use disorders, serious mental illness, insomnia, chronic pain, and couple distress. For more information on VA treatment, talk with your nearest VITAL program representative or review the VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guideline.
Sign up for emails from the VITAL program to be kept informed of future trainings on student Veterans and mental health.
Subscribe to a bimonthly email with summaries of clinically relevant research in the trauma field. Publications on other topics are included if the content has significant clinical implications.
A growing number of websites and mobile apps are available for Veterans with adjustment and mental health issues. Learn more about them here or download them at the App Store or Play Store.
The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights: Disability Discrimination* is responsible for ensuring that all students have equal educational opportunities regardless of their race, national origin, age, sex, or disability. Veterans with disabilities are among those protected by these laws. You will find a few resources geared toward DRC staff below.
Resources for DRC Staff
The American Council on Education, in collaboration with the Association on Higher Education And Disability, The Kresge Foundation, and America's Heroes at Work, have generated tips for helping campus faculty and staff members accommodate student Veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and PTSD.
The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights has developed a comprehensive handout on the types of accommodations that may be helpful for returning service members.
Disability compensation is available to student Veterans who were disabled as a result of active duty. Student Veterans who have a service-connected disability and would benefit from accommodations should be encouraged to register with the DRC on campus. If they are not already service-connected, they should fill out VA Form 21-526EZ, Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits, or apply online. They will need to include the following materials with their application:
- Discharge or separation papers (DD214 or equivalent*)
- Dependency records (marriage and children's birth certificates)
- Medical evidence (doctor and hospital reports)
The Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology (DO-IT) Center at the University of Washington provides helpful resources on accommodations for student Veterans. Included in the DO-IT Center's material is a 15-minute video titled "Returning From Service: College and IT Careers for Veterans."
The National Association of Colleges and Employers* (NACE) connects more than 5,200 college career services professionals at nearly 2,000 colleges and universities, as well as more than 3,000 human resources/staffing professionals focused on college relations and recruiting.
VA has a program to help service members, Veterans, and their family members make a seamless transition into civilian careers after their military service.
VetSuccess on Campus
The Veterans Employment Toolkit provides employers and human resources professionals with information on what Veterans bring to the workforce. There are also employment resources for Veterans and their family members.
Administrators at postsecondary institutions are often involved in helping student Veterans navigate a complex new system. Resources are available to help both the student Veteran and the administrator succeed with this process.
Learn more about adjustment to campus life and tips for showing support. This handout is organized to provide tips specifically for members of the faculty, staff, and administration. However, some of the tips may be relevant across these groups.